Nashville Retreat, Part VI: Sunday

6:00: Rise

6:30: Meditation

7:00 lauds

7:15 Mass

8:30 Breakfast

9:30 pack, strip beds

10:00 group picture in the oratory

10:15 conference

11:15 retreat closing

12:00 Noon prayers and lunch

1:00 Departures

St. Cecilia sisters' locations overseas

St. Cecilia sisters’ locations overseas

Me and St. Cecilia, before noon prayer

Me and St. Cecilia, before noon prayer


I didn’t hear the rising bell, so I missed meditation, but I made it to the church for lauds and Mass. Since it was Laertae Sunday, the priests wore rose vestments, and there were instruments! Four sisters were excellent instrumentalists–there was a flautist, a clarinetist, a cellist and a violinist. Combined with the schola and the organ, the music was truly heavenly! These sisters do their patroness proud!

I was craving something sugary, like juice or soda, by the time we got to breakfast. I knew soda wouldn’t be on offer, but there were glorious pitchers of orange juice! I think I drank the entire thing myself. It was so, so good. That’s one thing about eating in a convent: Youย reallyย appreciate certain things when you don’t have them! The breakfast was awesome: juice, bacon, eggs….YUM. Ecstasy, right here, let me tell you. I was so excited aboutย orange juice.

After breakfast we went upstairs to pack, and I made the last trek upward. ๐Ÿ™‚ We deposited our laundry in marked bins, then brought our bags back to the recreation hall.

Statuary in the recreation hall

Statuary in the recreation hall

painting in the hallway, celebrating the sisters' jubilee

painting in the hallway, celebrating the sisters’ jubilee

the recreation hall, the right side of the room, with the window seats

the recreation hall, the right side of the room, with the window seats

It was time for the photo and the last conference. The photo took awhile–there were so many of us, it was hard to fit us in the frame! Poor Sr. John Thomas had to stand at the very back of the oratory on a chair to get us all.

Fr. Eckert preached the last conference on “Responding in Love: The Moral Life.”


  • Today’s Gospel: The Prodigal Son: God’s great love for us. We have that love, always!
  • As we go back into the world, how do we bring our faith?
  • Living out the 10 commandments
  • In our relationship with God, think of human relationships: Like those, we need to spend time, be withย the beloved person, commit to that time.
  • Called to be on fire with the love of God.
  • How do we being to live life with him?
  • Grow in virtue
  • Be surrounded by the saints
  • Be in love with Him
  • Something deeper, stronger: What else do I need to give?
  • What keeps me from being the person I need to be?
  • What is the New Evangelization?–using the creed, the sacraments, to enter into the beauty of Love with God. We are called to fall in love with him.
  • B XVI: “Opening the hears and minds of men to the true Life in God.”
  • The world NEEDS true believers–always in God. Not just “Sunday”, but every day.
  • Being in a relationship
  • Our relationship with God should shape everything we do in life.
  • Need to learn and love and teach our faith.
  • The relationship continues all the time.
  • “Make the center of your life Jesus Christ.”
  • If you do follow and love,y ou will have joy.
  • Love is contradictory.
  • The love of Christ is the only thing that completely fulfills us
  • We can’t go out there with fear.
  • We areย in love.
  • If you are truly in love with Christ, you have happiness and joy.
  • Authentic joy, not saccharine joy.
  • Called to be credible, joyful witnesses.
  • The cross always leads to the resurrection
  • Witness that is it possible in this day and age to be authentically CAtholic
  • “We have to be on fire with the love of God!”
  • “The New Evangelization is deeper than buying an iPad.” (Father was making a joke about how he had one; how technology is good, and we can use it to spread the love of Christ and the Gospel, but it’s more than just the gadgetry.)
  • What it is to give everything for Jesus Christ.
  • We have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel in everything we do.


At the end of his talk, Father called us “sisters in Christ,” and for the first time that truly struck me. I’ve always heard of “brothers and sister” in the Church–Benedict XVI was very fond of “fratelli and sorelli”–brothers and sisters–in his addresses. But as he spoke to us, and as I was surrounded by all these other women and the sisters, it really rang true to me. YES, we are all connected. We were all one family in Christ.

Sister Peter Marie took the podium for the closing remarks. She said that being on retreat was being “on the mountain” with Christ, and now we had to descend to the plain, to our daily lives. But we can always go back to the mountain with Christ, in prayer.

This also struck me. Part of my life has been that deep wanting to alwaysย beย on the mountain, be at the monastery or the convent or at the place of retreat. But I don’t need to be–I can have the mountain with me, always, interiorly. I don’t need to be in a specific place to be holy.

On the wall in the chapel is the antiphon for St. Cecilia’s Feast Day (November 22) in Latin:ย Cantatibus organis Caecilia Domino Decantabat Dicens: Fiat Cor Meum Immaculatum ut Non Confundar. My rough translation: As the organ played, Cecilia sang to her Lord, saying: Make my heart immaculate, and do not let it be confounded. Her fiat resounded in me after that last conference, and “Make my heart immaculate” (fiat cor meum immaculatum) is something I’m going to try to constantly remember.

Noon prayers, lunch, and goodbyes followed. There were so many really wonderful women on this retreat, and I was pleased to meet so many of them! Katie went and brought the car up, and before we left, we talked for a few minutes with Sr. Bernadette Marie, who was one of the sisters helping with the retreat. She was, also, so nice and sweet and truly joyful, a soul steeped in prayer. (All the sisters were….they are truly incredible women) She took one last picture of the three of us, and then we were on the road for home.



One thought on “Nashville Retreat, Part VI: Sunday

  1. “Part of my life has been that deep wanting to always be on the mountain, be at the monastery or the convent or at the place of retreat. But I donโ€™t need to beโ€“I can have the mountain with me, always, interiorly. I donโ€™t need to be in a specific place to be holy.”

    Yes — that’s been my learning as well, but I do love to go on retreat still.

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